Today I'm going to write something about writing. I feel as if I haven't done this in a while, although it's only been a little over a week.

I always aim for non-specifics here because you can find jillions of places on the web with rules and guidelines and other how-to information. And many of them are written by writers with a lot more street cred than I have.

So mostly I talk about things I do, how I do them, what works for me. My goal isn't to see to it that you follow along doing what I do or writing how I write. I share these things so you'll have a jumping off point if something isn't working for you. For you to take from me and develop what works for you.

So with that said, let's chat about real deadlines and self-imposed ones.

For me there's one difference, which I'll talk about later in this post.

I do not enjoy butting against a wall at the last minute. For any reason. So for as far back as I can remember I've always done things ahead of time in case any problems developed. So if something was due on Friday, I'd have it done by Wednesday. That kind of thing.

Real deadlines have never been a problem.

Self-imposed ones aren't either. I need them for myself to stay on track. Left all day with nothing that must be done - which means nothing without a deadline - I'll find 20,000 things that keep me from writing. So I make my own deadlines.

Now I'll get to the difference.

Real Deadlines - Nothing gets in the way. Whether it's writing or something else. It gets done. Everything else gets pushed behind The Project. Sometimes even sleep.

Self-Imposed Deadlines - I'm a little more flexible because I'm dealing only with myself. Sometimes Life gets in the way. I let it. I give myself permission to skip a day writing here and there. I spend evenings with my live-in handyman. When a neighbor visits I sit and chat. I play with Arf and Woof. I get as much done as I can toward my goal. The big thing is I don't ignore my goal or the deadline for accomplishing it. But I don't beat myself up over not writing on Thursday or only meeting half my goal on Monday.

Overall, I guess I stay focused. During a real deadline situation, my focus is very narrow. I'm 200% on that deadline. When that deadline is self-imposed, my focus broadens. I'm at about 80%.

For me that's what works.

Without a deadline, I'm toast.


arlee bird said…
I've been taking my blog seriously. Outside of school, I've rarely had writing deadlines imposed upon me. For me, my blog is like rehearsing for a real writing deadline job. I know I don't have to, but I have imposed a deadline of a post each day appearing at 2:00 AM Pacific Time. I certainly don't want to stay up that late so I like to make sure my posts are ready in advance and set to post automatically. I've gotten in a habit now, and I, being a procrastinator by nature, will have an easier time of it when the deadlines become "real".
I wish I had your discipline when it comes to self-imposed deadlines. I treat real-world deadlines with respect and I've never missed one. I can meet self-imposed ones as well, but it can be a struggle. Usually I have to get myself to the point of saying "Oh, just finish the %***#ed thing!" and then it gets done.
Kathy McIntosh said…
I confess I'm much more in Elspeth's camp: those self-imposed deadlines tend to slip.
Blog posts do present a good discipline and I've tried to be better this year, but still have issues. I like the idea of auto post and intend to try that, now that I think Google has improved it.
I do stick to deadlines to get my client's editing projects I'll give myself a pat on the back for that.
I stand in awe of Carol and Arlee.
Joanne said…
I need deadlines, self-imposed or not. So I'm an itinerary person, with all I need to get done listed sequentially. It keeps me on track to visually see the work waiting, and to check them off as I go!
Carol, I especially like that you don't beat up on yourself about self-imposed deadlines. When I have them and do...they don't work.
Mason Canyon said…
I hate the pressure of a deadline. But with that said, I seem to work better under the pressure of a deadline. If I have a couple of days until something needs to be done, I let it go until it has to be done. That's not good. Life has a way of breaking in and when it does then the deadline can come at me too fast. I'm trying to be more discipline in my deadlines.
kimberlyloomis said…
Good words, Carol. Ultimately I wind up doing something somewhat similar except by way of goals. Each day I try and write x amount of words on the wip and, if I'm behind on blog posts for the upcoming week, I'll work on those.

Ultimately I'm with you on the deadlines. Self-imposed I get a little loose on while I very much look forward to having an actual one put upon me in the future. :)

Also- I left an award for you over at my blog. ;)
Carol Kilgore said…
Arlee - Good for you. I probably should write my posts ahead and set them to auto-publish. But I sort of use them as my warm up for the day.

Elspeth - I've never missed a deadline either. Although I did miss a party back during the holidays. How can anyone miss a party of all things - LOL

Kathy - No need to be in awe of me. It's just how I'm wired.

Joanne - Oh yes. Lists. Love 'em.

Conda - I'm the same.

Mason - I think it's knowing that it's gotta get done that keeps me moving forward.

Kimberly - Thanks for the kind words. And for the award.
Southpaw said…
I give myself deadlines too it helps keep me focused.
I was "raised" (Career-wise) as an aviator. So rules, processes and procedures are, in my brain, important things. In general, I'm a need structure kinda guy. So, deadlines are easy for me to observe, no matter their origin.

Best Wishes Galen.
Imagineering Fiction Blog
Carol Kilgore said…
Southpaw & Galen - I'm happy to know I'm not the only one!
Terry Odell said…
I agree you need something to keep the momentum going. Right now, my deadlines all revolve around moving. The garage sale is Saturday, so there's a deadline to get all the things we're going to want to sell sorted and moved (it would help if there was room in the garage!) Then there's the day the movers are coming to pack what we're going to store until we find a house. And on and on. The intermediate steps are self-imposed, but if it's not done on time, it's not going to happen. So, if I decide to watch the Olympics, or blog-hop instead of sorting, it means I'll have to work harder later.
Carol Kilgore said…
Terry, I know what you're experiencing. We did the same thing in January of last year. Just don't do what we did. Accidentally we packed all the computers. Talk about a crazy mess.
Helen Ginger said…
I agree with you about deadlines. If it's my own deadline, though, I need to be more strict with myself. I tend to let blogging, housework, etc. get in the way.

Straight From Hel
Maryann Miller said…
Deadlines... ah, the writer's bane. On one hand, I hated the real ones I had when I worked for some print publications as they were always too short. In newspaper work you learn to crank out a story in an hour. However, that experience sure serves me well in doing blogs and columns now.

I think the ability to stick to a self-imposed deadline is hard for a lot of writers because the creative spirit is not disciplined, and we need to play with that spirit when writing.
Carol Kilgore said…
Helen - Never housework! Blogging, maybe.

Maryann - I have a background of needing to produce in a hurry and on short notice, too. It comes in handy because my creative writing spirit loves to play, too.